It is with concern that the Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation (CPPC) is following the path that the European Union (EU) has been treading in order to create conditions to criminalise solidarity with the Palestinian cause, while turning a blind eye on the illegalities and crimes of the Israeli regime against the Palestinian people.
Examples of this are the assimilation, denunciation and condemnation of Israeli policy, anti-Semitism (EU Justice and Home Affairs Council, and subsequent decisions by several member states); legislation against the international “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement” (Germany and France); the ban on participating in any political activities or events, enacted against the Palestinian writer and activist Kahled Barakat (Germany); the threat of a residence ban against Charlotte Kates, coordinator of the International Network for Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners (Germany); the charge against Ángeles Maestro Martín and two other women of collaboration with a terrorist organisation for raising funds for the reconstruction of what the Israeli forces had destroyed in the Gaza Strip in 2014 (Spain).
Meanwhile, when the European Union and other international institutions fail to make a stand against Israel’s abuses, their harmlessness becomes evident.
And so, a heavy curtain of silence falls upon the suffering and the trampled rights of the Palestinian people, with accusations of anti-Semitism or worse against those who, including Jews and Israeli human rights organisations, dare to oppose Israel’s criminal policies; while economic cooperation and agreements of various types with the Israeli state continue smoothly.
At the beginning of this month of August, at the Al-Aqsa complex in East Jerusalem, in the occupied West Bank region attributed to the Palestinians under the Oslo Accords, Israeli police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades at thousands of Palestinians during one of the major Muslim religious festivities, wounding sixty one, mostly the elderly.
Recently, the military government that administers the occupied West Bank announced plans to go ahead with more than 2,000 housing units in Israeli settlements in the region, which are at various stages of the approval process.
In July, in Sur Baher, also in East Jerusalem, the Israeli army demolished with explosives and bulldozers more than a dozen apartment buildings leaving hundreds of Palestinians homeless. The United Nations Organisation (UN) expresses “dismay” over what took place.
In the same region, the army has been terrorizing Issawiya’s population for weeks with checkpoints, arbitrary arrests in the middle of the night, without sparing children and teens, shooting live and rubber bullets in residential areas, imposing fines and other discretionary actions.
Also in July, Israeli snipers shot a protester and seriously injured fifty-six. In sixteen months, Israeli military forces killed hundreds and injured thousands of participants in the weekly demonstrations taking place in the Gaza Strip in the scope of the Great March of Return.
Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails in January 2019 number more than 5,000, of which around 500 are serving sentences of more than twenty years and a higher number sentenced to life imprisonment. Minors are not spared: since 2000, at least 8,000 Palestinian minors have been detained, questioned and charged by the Israeli military justice. Since 1967, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been subject to the Israeli penal system; one million since 1948
In March 2018, the Israeli parliament passed the law allowing the government to revoke Palestinian citizens’ right of residence in Jerusalem. In July, it adopted the basic law of the State of Israel that enshrines the principles of a racist and segregationist state recognising the right of citizenship only to persons of Jewish origin and institutionalising discrimination against citizens of Arab origin.
The State of Israel has for twelve years enforced a total blockade of the Gaza Strip, condemning its two million inhabitants to deprivation of all kinds.
In 2014, hundreds of Israeli military attacks by sea, land and air killed more than 2,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, most of them civilians. The UN’s Abu Hussein School was one of the targets hit, despite repeated warnings about its civilian nature. Twenty-one children were killed in their sleep.
In 2013, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child accused Israeli forces of mistreating and torturing children. In Israel, children who throw stones at soldiers can be punished with imprisonment for up to twenty years.
From 2008 to 2009, during the “Operation Cast Lead”, Israel killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, injured more than 5,000 and seized new lands in the West Bank and Gaza.
The enunciation of the illegalities, aggressions and crimes committed by the Israeli regime during these seventy-one years could go on, even the primordial act of destroying more than five hundred villages and expelling more than seven hundred and fifty thousand Palestinians from their lands in 1948.
Nevertheless, such a policy has the unfailing support of the United States (USA). Especially unspoken during successive US governments, this support has become openly explicit with the current Administration. Expanding the usual military and trade relations, in 2018 the US recognised Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and relocated its embassy there, a serious blow to the requisites of a just peace in accordance with UN resolutions adopted by the vast majority of the world’s countries.
In turn, while criticizing with words some of the US positions, the EU deepens its role as Israel’s prime trading partner in sectors like machinery, transport equipment, chemicals and other industrial products; in addition to services and technology, including military.
Sure of going unpunished, Israel maintains an arrogant and growing disregard for international laws, agreements and standards, whether the Oslo Accords, UN resolutions or the most basic human rights.
The CPPC considers it necessary and urgent to break the wall of silence and hypocrisy surrounding the Palestinian issue and calls on all men and women defenders of peace and human rights to join forces for solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle to create a State with borders prior to June 4, 1967 and its capital in East Jerusalem; and for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
August 14, 2019
National Board of CPPC